House of Representatives (Netherlands)

The House of Representatives (Dutch: Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, pronounced [ˈtʋeːdə ˈkaːmər dɛr ˈstaːtə(n) ˌɣeːnəˈraːl] (listen); commonly referred to as the Tweede Kamer, literally Second Chamber) is the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the Netherlands, the States General, the other one being the Senate. It has 150 seats which are filled through elections using a party-list proportional representation. It sits in the Binnenhof in The Hague.

House of Representatives

Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal
States General of the Netherlands
Khadija Arib, Labour Party
since 13 January 2016
First Deputy Speaker
Political groups
Government (75)[1]
  •      VVD (32)
  •      CDA (19)
  •      D66 (19)
  •      CU (5)

Opposition parties (75)

Party-list proportional representation D'Hondt method
Last election
15 March 2017
Next election
17 March 2021
Meeting place
The Hague,
House of Representatives
Tweede Kamer


Although this body is called the "House of Representatives" in English, this is not a direct translation of its Dutch name, the "Second Chamber" or more colloquially just the "Chamber". Rather than "representatives" (afgevaardigden), members of the House are referred to as Tweede Kamerlid ("member of the Second Chamber").


The House of Representatives is the main chamber of the States General, where discussion of proposed legislation and review of the actions of the cabinet takes place. Both the Cabinet and the House of Representatives itself have the right to propose legislation; the House of Representatives discusses it and, if adopted by a majority, sends it on to the Senate. Review of the actions of the cabinet takes the form of formal interrogations, which may result in motions urging the cabinet to take, or refrain from, certain actions. No individual may be a member of both parliament and cabinet, except in a caretaker cabinet that has not yet been succeeded when a new House is sworn in.

The House of Representatives is also responsible for the first round of selection for judges to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. It submits a list of three names for every vacant position to the Government. Furthermore, it elects the Dutch Ombudsman and their subsidiaries.


The normal term of the House of Representatives is four years. Elections are called when the government loses parliament's confidence, the governing coalition breaks down, the term of the House of Representatives expires or when no governing coalition can be formed.


Anybody eligible to vote in the Netherlands also has the right to establish a political party and contest elections for the House of Representatives. Parties wanting to take part must register 43 days before the elections, supplying a nationwide list of at most 50 candidates (80 if the party already has more than 15 seats). Parties that do not have any sitting candidates in the House of Representatives must also pay a deposit (11,250 euro for the November 2006 elections, for all districts together) and provide 30 signatures of support from residents of each of the 20 electoral districts in which they want to collect votes.

Party lists

The candidate lists are placed in the hands of the voters at least 14 days before the election. Each candidate list is numbered, with the person in the first position known as the lijsttrekker ("list puller"). The lijsttrekker is usually appointed by the party to lead its election campaign, and is almost always the party's political leader and candidate for Prime Minister. Parties may choose to compete with different candidate lists in each of the 20 electoral districts, but as seats are allocated on national rather than district level, most parties have almost identical lists in all districts with candidates running nationwide. Only large parties usually have some regional candidates at the bottom of their lists. From 1973 until abolition in June 2017 it was possible for two or more parties to combine their separate lists to increase the chance of winning a remainder seat. This was known as a 'list combination' or Lijstverbinding / lijstencombinatie.[2]

Registration and voting

Citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands aged 18 or over have the right to vote, with the exception of 1) prisoners serving a term of more than one year 2) those who have been declared incapable by court because of insanity 3) residents of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, unless they have spent ten years residing in the Netherlands or work for the Dutch civil service.[3] Eligible citizens resident in the Netherlands are able to vote if they are registered on a municipal population register (Basisregistratie Personen). Eligible citizens outside the Netherlands can permanently register to vote at the municipality of The Hague, provided they have a current Dutch passport or identity card.

A single vote can be placed on any one candidate. Many voters select one of the lijsttrekkers (Jan Peter Balkenende, for example, received 2,198,114 of the CDA's 2,608,573 votes in the November 2006 elections), but alternatively a preference vote may be made for a candidate lower down the list.

Allocation of seats

Once the election results are known, the seats are allocated to the parties. The number of valid national votes cast is divided by 150, the number of seats available, to give a threshold for each seat (the kiesdeler); 1/150th is approximately 0.67% of the valid votes. Each party's number of votes is divided by this threshold to give an initial number of seats equal to the number of times the threshold was reached.[4] Any party that received fewer votes than the threshold fails to gain representation in the House of Representatives. After the initial seats are allocated, the remainder seats are allocated among the parties that received at least one seat, using the D'Hondt method of largest averages. This system slightly favours the larger parties. Since parties that received fewer votes than required to obtain one whole seat are not eligible for remainder seats, there is a de facto election threshold of 0.67%.[5] This threshold is one of the lowest for national parliaments in the world, and there are usually multiple parties winning seats with 2% or less of the vote. Any party that did not have seats in the House at the time of the election will have its deposit refunded if it receives more than 75% of the threshold (1/200th of the vote).

Once the number of seats allocated to each party is known, in general they are allocated to candidates in the order that they appear on the party's list. (Hence, before the elections, the candidates near the top may be described as in an electable position, depending on the number of seats that the party is likely to obtain.) At this stage, however, the preference votes are also taken into account. Any candidate receiving more than one quarter of the threshold on personal preference votes (the 'preference threshold' or voorkeursdrempel, 0.1675% of the total number of valid votes), is considered elected in their own right, leapfrogging candidates higher on the list. In the November 2006 elections, only one candidate received a seat exclusively through preference votes, while 26 other candidates reaching the preference threshold were already elected based on their position on the list. If a candidate cannot take up the position in parliament (e.g., if they become a minister, decide not to enter parliament, or later resign) then the next candidate on the list takes their place.

Formation of governing coalition

After all seats are allocated, a series of negotiations take place in order to form a government that, usually, commands a majority in the chamber. Since 2012, the House of Representatives appoints a "scout" to ask the major party leaders about prospective coalitions. On the basis of the scout's interviews, the House of Representatives then appoints an informateur, who checks out possible coalitions, and formateur, who leads negotiations (in previous years the informateur and formateur were appointed by the monarch). It typically takes a few months before the formateur is ready to accept a royal invitation to form a government and become prime minister. All cabinet members must resign from parliament, as the constitution does not allow a cabinet member to hold a seat in the House of Representatives.

Due to the nationwide party-list system and the low election threshold, a typical House of Representatives has ten or more factions represented. Such fragmentation makes it nearly impossible for one party to win the 76 seats needed for a majority in the House of Representatives. Indeed, since the current party-list proportional representation system was introduced in 1918, no party has even approached the number of seats that are even theoretically needed to govern alone, let alone win enough for an outright majority. The highest proportion of seats won by a single party since then has been 54 out of 150, obtained by the CDA in 1986 and 1989. Between 1891 and 1897, the Liberal Union was the last party to have an absolute majority of seats in the House of Representatives. All Dutch cabinets since then have been coalitions of two or more parties.

House of Representatives offices

The buildings that house the individual offices of the Members of the House of Representatives and conference rooms for closed-door party meetings are all located on the Binnenhof. The main buildings of the old Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Colonial Affairs are used as accommodations.


Historical compositions

Until 1956, there were 100 seats. This was expanded to 150 seats, which is the current number.

To give an overview of the history of the House of Representatives, the figure on the right shows the seat distribution in the House from the first general elections after World War II (1946) to the current situation. The left-wing parties are towards the bottom, the Christian parties in the centre, with the right-wing parties towards the top. Occasionally, single-issue (or narrow-focus) parties have arisen, and these are shown at the extreme top. Vertical lines indicate general elections. Although these are generally held every four years, the resulting coalition governments do not always finish their term without a government crisis, which is often followed by fresh elections. Hence the frequent periods shorter than four years.

Current situation

The Dutch general election of 2017 was held on Wednesday, 15 March 2017, and followed the call for new elections after the Second Rutte cabinet had completed its four-year term. The new Members of the House of Representatives were installed on 23 March 2017. Four parties were required to form a coalition with a simple majority (76 seats). Rutte's VVD, as well as the CDA, D66 and CU parties, later agreed to form a governing coalition with the required one-seat majority after the longest time since an election took place, 209 days, surpassing the previous record of 208 days set after the 1977 general elections.

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Netherlands

 Summary of the 15 March 2017 Dutch House of Representatives election results
Party Lijsttrekker Votes % +/ Seats +/
People's Party for Freedom and DemocracyVVDMark Rutte2,238,35121.3−5.333−8
Party for FreedomPVVGeert Wilders1,372,94113.1+3.020+5
Christian Democratic AppealCDASybrand Buma1,301,79612.4+3.919+6
Democrats 66D66Alexander Pechtold1,285,81912.2+4.219+7
GroenLinksGLJesse Klaver959,6009.1+6.814+10
Socialist PartySPEmile Roemer955,6339.1−0.614−1
Labour PartyPvdALodewijk Asscher599,6995.7−19.19−29
Christian UnionCUGert-Jan Segers356,2713.4+0.35+0
Party for the AnimalsPvdDMarianne Thieme335,2143.2+1.35+3
50PLUS50+Henk Krol327,1313.1+1.24+2
Reformed Political PartySGPKees van der Staaij218,9502.1+0.03+0
DenkDENKTunahan Kuzu216,1472.1New3+3
Forum for DemocracyFvDThierry Baudet187,1621.8New2+2
VoorNederlandVNLJan Roos38,2090.4New0
Pirate PartyPPAncilla van de Leest35,4780.3+0.00
Artikel 1A1Sylvana Simons28,7000.3New0
Nieuwe WegenNiWeJacques Monasch14,3620.1New0
Entrepreneurs PartyOPHero Brinkman12,5700.1New0
Lokaal in de KamerLidKJan Heijman6,8580.1New0
Non-VotersNSPeter Plasman6,0250.1New0
The Civil MovementDBBAd Vlems5,2210.1New0
GeenPeilGPJan Dijkgraaf4,9450.0New0
Jezus LeeftJLFlorens van der Spek3,0990.0New0
Free-Minded PartyVPNorbert Klein2,9380.0New0
Libertarian PartyLPRobert Valentine1,4920.0+0.00
Party for Human and Spirit / Basic Income Party / V-RMenS-BIPTara-Joëlle Fonk7260.0−0.20
StemNLSNLMario van den Eijnde5270.0New0
Free Democratic PartyVDPBurhan Gökalp1770.0New0
Total valid votes10,516,041100150
Blank votes15,8760.15
Invalid votes31,5390.3
Registered voters & turnout12,893,46681.9+7.3
Source: Kiesraad

Parliamentary leaders

Portrait Name Party Service as Parliamentary leader Service as a Member of
the House of Representatives
Klaas Dijkhoff
(born 1981)
VVD 25 October 2017
(2 years, 50 days)
23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)

17 June 2010 –
20 March 2015
(4 years, 276 days)
Geert Wilders
(born 1963)
PVV 30 November 2006
(13 years, 14 days)
26 July 2002
(17 years, 171 days)

25 August 1998 –
23 May 2002
(3 years, 271 days)
Pieter Heerma
(born 1977)
CDA 21 May 2019
(207 days)
20 September 2012
(7 years, 85 days)
Rob Jetten
(born 1987)
D66 9 October 2018
(1 year, 66 days)
23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)
Jesse Klaver
(born 1986)
GL 12 May 2015
(4 years, 216 days)
17 June 2010
(9 years, 180 days)
Lilian Marijnissen
(born 1985)
SP 13 December 2017
(2 years, 1 day)
23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)
Lodewijk Asscher
(born 1974)
PvdA 23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)
23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)
Gert-Jan Segers
(born 1969)
CU 10 November 2015
(4 years, 34 days)
20 September 2012
(7 years, 85 days)
Esther Ouwehand
(born 1976)
PvdD 9 October 2019
(66 days)

9 October 2018 –
31 January 2019
(114 days)

24 January 2012 –
14 May 2012
(111 days)
18 October 2016
(3 years, 57 days)

30 November 2006 –
17 November 2015
(8 years, 352 days)
Henk Krol
(born 1950)
50+ 10 September 2014
(5 years, 95 days)

20 September 2012 –
4 October 2013
(1 year, 16 days)
10 September 2014
(5 years, 95 days)

20 September 2012 –
4 October 2013
(1 year, 16 days)
Kees van der Staaij
(born 1968)
SGP 9 June 2010
(9 years, 188 days)
19 May 1998
(21 years, 209 days)
Tunahan Kuzu
(born 1981)
DENK 2 September 2018
(1 year, 103 days)

23 March 2017 –
23 April 2018
(1 year, 31 days)
20 September 2012
(7 years, 85 days)
Thierry Baudet
(born 1983)
FvD 23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)
23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)
Parliamentary leader
Group/Member Name
Former Party
Service as Parliamentary leader Service as a Member of
the House of Representatives
Femke Merel van Kooten
(born 1983)
Member Van Kooten
(Left the PvdD)
16 July 2019
(151 days)
4 February 2019
(313 days)

23 March 2017 –
15 October 2018
(1 year, 206 days)
Wybren van Haga
(born 1967)
Member Van Haga
(Expelled from VVD)
24 September 2019
(81 days)
31 October 2017
(2 years, 44 days)

Members of the Presidium

Portrait Name Position Party Service in the Presidium Service as a member of
the House of Representatives
Khadija Arib
(born 1960)
Speaker PvdA 13 January 2016
(3 years, 335 days)
1 March 2007
(12 years, 288 days)

19 May 1998 –
30 November 2006
(8 years, 195 days)
Ockje Tellegen
(born 1974)
First Deputy Speaker VVD 31 October 2017
(2 years, 44 days)
20 September 2012
(7 years, 85 days)
Martin Bosma
(born 1964)
Second Deputy Speaker PVV 30 June 2010
(9 years, 259 days)
30 November 2006
(13 years, 14 days)
Madeleine van Toorenburg
(born 1968)
Third Deputy Speaker CDA 31 October 2017
(2 years, 44 days)
1 March 2007
(12 years, 288 days)
Vera Bergkamp
(born 1971)
Fourth Deputy Speaker D66 31 October 2017
(2 years, 44 days)
20 September 2012
(7 years, 85 days)
Tom van der Lee
(born 1964)
Fifth Deputy Speaker GL 14 June 2018
(1 year, 183 days)
23 March 2017
(2 years, 266 days)
Ronald van Raak
(born 1969)
Sixth Deputy Speaker SP 23 June 2010
(9 years, 266 days)
30 November 2006
(13 years, 14 days)
Joël Voordewind
(born 1965)
Seventh Deputy Speaker CU 20 September 2012
(7 years, 85 days)
30 November 2006
(13 years, 14 days)
Henk Nijboer
(born 1983)
Eighth Deputy Speaker PvdA 5 June 2018
(1 year, 192 days)
20 September 2012
(7 years, 85 days)

Parliamentary Committees

Parliamentary Committee Ministry Jurisdiction Current Chair
Parliamentary committee for the Interior Ministry of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations
Domestic policyCivil servicePublic administration
Local Government AffairsProvincial Government AffairsElections
Erik Ziengs (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for Foreign Affairs Ministry of Foreign Affairs Foreign relationsForeign policyBenelux UnionNATODiaspora Pia Dijkstra (D66)
Parliamentary committee for Finances Ministry of Finance Economic policyMonetary policyFiscal policyTax policy
Financial marketGovernment budget
Anne Mulder (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Justice and Security
Ministry of Justice and Security Justice systemLaw enforcementPublic security
Emergency managementImmigration policy
Paul van Meenen (D66)
Parliamentary committee for
Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
Ministry of Economic Affairs
and Climate Policy
Commercial policyIndustrial policyEnergy policy
Environmental policyTechnology policySpace policyTourism
Isabelle Diks (GL)
Parliamentary committee for Defence Ministry of Defence Armed forcesMilitary policyVeterans AffairsMilitary police
Defence diplomacyHumanitarian aid
Aukje de Vries (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Health, Welfare and Sport
Ministry of Health,
Welfare and Sport
Health careHealth policyHealth insurancePharmaceutical policy
Vaccination policyWelfareBiomedical sciencesSport
Helma Lodders (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Social Affairs and Employment
Ministry of Social Affairs
and Employment
Social policyEmploymentLabour economicsOccupational safety and health
Social securityConsumer protectionTrades unionsEmancipation
Michel Rog (CDA)
Parliamentary committee for
Education, Culture and Science
Ministry of Education,
Culture and Science
Education policyCultural policyScience policyKnowledge policy
ResearchArtGender equalityCommunicationMedia
Ockje Tellegen (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Infrastructure and Water Management
Ministry of Infrastructure
and Water Management
TransportWater ManagementAviationHousing policyPublic works
Spatial planningLand management
Agnes Mulder (CDA)
Parliamentary committee for
Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
Ministry of Agriculture, Nature
and Food Quality
Agricultural policyFood policyFood safetyFisheries
Natural resourceNatural conservationForestryAnimal welfare
Attje Kuiken (PvdA)
Select Parliamentary Committee Ministry Jurisdiction Current Chair
Parliamentary committee for
Kingdom Relations
Ministry of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations
Kingdom Relations Jan Paternotte (D66)
Parliamentary committee for
European Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs European Union Hayke Veldman (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Investment policyInternational tradeExport promotionDevelopment Cooperation
Foreign Disaster reliefInternational Environmental policies
Raymond de Roon (PVV)
Parliamentary committee for
Building Supervision
Ministry of Infrastructure
and Water Management
Illegal construction • Construction Fraud Ockje Tellegen (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Petitions and the Citizen Initiatives
ReferendumsInitiatives Sven Koopmans (VVD)
Parliamentary committee for
Intelligence and Security
IntelligenceSecurityNational securityComputer security Klaas Dijkhoff (VVD)
Presidium of the House of Representatives House of Representatives Administration Khadija Arib (PvdA)
Special Parliamentary Committee Ministry Jurisdiction Current Chair
Special Parliamentary committee for
Digital Future
Digital Infrastructure • Internet accessWi-FiDigital rights Kathalijne Buitenweg (GL)
Special Parliamentary committee for
Investigation of Unwanted Influence from Foreign Entities
Foreign electoral intervention • Foreign donations policy Michel Rog (CDA)


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  2. Gijs Herderscheê (20 June 2017). "Fenomeen politieke lijstverbinding sneuvelt in Eerste Kamer". Volkskrant.
  3. Kiesgerechtigdheid, Government of the Netherlands, retrieved December 2, 2018
  4. "Kieswet, Hoofdstuk P". (in Dutch). 2019-02-22. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  5. "Kiesdrempel, kiesdeler en voorkeurdrempel". (in Dutch). 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  6. "Nieuwkomers Denk en Forum krijgen geen andere plek in zaal Tweede Kamer". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  7. "Verhuizing Kamer lastige puzzel door eisen kleine partijen". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). 2017-04-07. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  8. "'Reken niet zomaar op de SGP'". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 2017-06-02. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  9. "Partijen onderhandelen over werkplek - wie eindigt op zolder?". NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). 2017-03-21. Retrieved 2017-11-04.

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